'Persona 4 Arena Ultimax' Brings New Challenges To The 'P4' Universe

September 30, 2014

Traditionally, if you're looking for a good story in a video game, you're probably not going to find it in the fighting genre. There's usually some loosely coherent reason that this collection of people (or super heroes, or monsters, or otherworldly creatures) have come together to punch and kick each other until one either submits or dies. Maybe it's a tournament to save the world, or maybe ... who are we kidding, it's usually a tournament to save the world. Having a really deep story has never really been an issue for most fighting games, as long as the most important part of the experience, the fighting, was done well. But, sometimes you can have your cake, and eat it, too. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax attempts to continue the high standards of a narrative driven fighting game that were set by its predecessor, 2012's Persona 4 Arena. With the combined forces of Atlus and Arc System Works behind it, Ultimax proves that you can both tell a fan service driven story, and be a deep fighting game - a feat that not many games have never attempted.

Developer: Arc System Works, Atlus
Publisher: Atlus

First there was Persona 4, then there was Persona 4 Arena, then there came Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Add into the mix Persona 4 Golden, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night (the last two have yet to be released), and it looks like Atlus has a wildly successful franchise, within a franchise, within a franchise. On the development side of things, Arc System Works has proven themselves with other series like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, and Arena Ultimax proves, yet again, that they are gifted fighting game developers. Persona 4 Arena builds on the complex systems that they have honed over the years, while incorporating the franchises signature mechanics and storyline, to stay true to the series' fans.

Picking up shortly after the events of Persona 4 Arena, Ultimax digs deeper into a mysterious resurgence of the Midnight Channel, only this time around, it's spread to the real world. By shifting out of the TV world, and into "real life," albeit one that is covered in a strange red fog, Ultimax is able to blend the worlds of Persona 3 and Persona 4, introducing new storylines and new characters. Fans of each series should be delighted to see how Atlus has brought both games together while keeping key elements of the franchise, like the Personas, in tact by incorporated them into the more hands on portion of the game.

Ultimax offers a more expansive experience compared to its predecessor. This release builds on the fight systems introduced in Arena by incorporating some new elements, like Shadow Types - a skill based option that shirks defense for increased attacks - for many of the game's characters. Along side Story Mode (which branches into Persona 3 and Persona 4 paths), and the expected arcade and online options, also comes Golden Arena, which pushes your upgradeable character through a survival mode that tests their abilities. Atlus rounded out the game with an assortment of new characters, many of which are exclusive to the console release, making Ultimax the definitive way to enjoy Persona fighting.

While Persona 4 Arena Ultimax made its debut in Japanese arcades, you're much more likely to be able to find it for your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax brings a little of everything to the table, in an attempt to make both Persona and fighting game fans happy at the same time. On the one hand, you have a lengthy story that builds on both Persona 4 and Persona 4 Arena, that will bring smiles to the faces of any Shin Megami Tensei fan. On the other hand, you have an intense and complex fighting game that can appeal to any fighting game devotee, whether they're familiar with story of the Midnight Channel or not. And, if you're a fan of both fighting games, and wordy JRPGs, then Ultimax lands right in your sweet spot.